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Convertible Commander: Emmara, Soul of the Accord


Not every commander is ready for the red zone.

Some of them are. Your Ruric Thars, your Rakdos, Lord of Riots, most of the Gods of Theros, those big slabs of beef can throw some punches. Heck, with 5 power, an opponent is dead in five hits. With 7, they're dead in three. That's pretty quick.

But that's not all commanders. Some of them are... well, not more subtle, necessarily, but require a bit more finesse. We can't expect to just stick some piece of equipment on them and smash in. Sometimes, putting the pieces of the puzzle together is one of the most fun parts of this format.

Today's commander doesn't require that much puzzling, but there are a million ways to build her. She's little, but she's cheap, so we can get her out early and start using her ability right away. If we're in a fair game, where the other players use the first five turns or so to ramp and no one plays a Wrath until turn eight, we'll probably get so far out of control we'll just win. On the other hand, if it's a game more like what my co-CSI-writer Bruce Richards is seeing, we'll just have to leverage what we've got and rebuild... and rebuild... and rebuild until they're out of Wraths and we stick a finisher. Meanwhile we'll do it all without messing with anyone else (except to remove the occasional pesky critter here and there). It's Emmara time.

Emmara, Soul of the Accord

We're not overly complicated, but in an unusual angle for one of my columns, we're also not laser-focused on a single theme. We have a goal (tap Emmara and make a bunch of Lifelink Soldier tokens) but we're not running a ton of ways to make more Soldier tokens. We're not running a bunch of Soldier tribal stuff. We're not going infinite with Emmara, either. All of those are perfectly reasonable options, and this is probably a good start point to work on one of those ideas, but in this case, we're going a bit wider and letting the cards take us where they want.

As per usual, we've got 40 lands... except we don't, actually. We're running 39 this week (gasp!). I know some of you roll with 37 or 34 or whatever, and you've all heard me say a million times you should play 40, but this is a particular case. We have a ton of mana outside of lands in this deck. A few mana rocks, sure, and a couple of ramp spells, yes, but also we've got ways to tap our creatures for mana, similar to a Llanowar Elves. We've also got a mostly low mana curve (there are a couple of spells above 5, but not many) so we can afford to drop one land from our normal amount. (Seriously, though, don't go any lower. You won't be able to play any of your spells, the deck will seem bad, and then you'll get mad at me for publishing a terrible deck but it won't actually be my fault because you decided to cut three lands for three nine-mana awesome spells. And then I'll be bummed because you'll be mad at me. So just... leave it there, okay?)

Our best draw spell is probably Mentor of the Meek. Because our Commander spits out 1/1s, and because it normally costs us nothing to make that happen, finding the one mana to pay to draw is easy and reliable. Often times that card can sit on the 'field for six or seven turns, at which point we've drawn a whole bunch of extra cards. It might be worth running some recursion just to get this one card back. But we've also got Skullclamp, which eats our tokens and gives us cards, and a few Green ways that care about how many creatures we've got. Hope you've got that Reliquary Tower out. Remember, though, making tokens out of nothing is also card advantage, so while we're not necessarily going to keep up with the u mage on draw, they'll get awfully tired of getting smacked by a massive army of little dudes. Huatli, Radiant Champion is likely to ultimate the turn after she comes down, which will help with card draw as well. Multiple emblems with her is not too far out of the question, and that should help lock up the game if it happens.

Eventually we have to win with those little dudes, though, so we've got a few ways. Obelisk of Urd is nice. Trostani Discordant has an awesome new name and gives our dudes a buff. Cathars' Crusade can get absolutely insane if left unchecked, as can Beastmaster Ascension. End-Raze Forerunners does a good Craterhoof Behemoth impression, though if you've got a 'hoof laying around, probably run that too. Triumph of the Hordes is our Overrun. There's an argument to running Overrun instead, but Triumph is more likely to just win the game in a single attack. We're not a poison deck, but hey, we'll take it if it means we can shuffle up for another one.[Editor's note: I would run Overrun over Triumph here. I get your point, but it's rare I feel good losing to Triumph. Obviously, I really hate it if there is a way to search it up.]

We've got a few ways to remove specific creatures, a few ways to get rid of pesky artifacts and enchantments, and a few targeted Wrath effects, most of which care about creatures bigger than ours or non-token creatures, which can be absolutely devastating for the opponents. We're also running a few Fog effects; we're either preventing combat damage or making our creatures indestructible until end of turn, which often winds up being the same thing since we can normally block everything they throw at us.

And we've got our ways to tap stuff, particularly our commander. Equipment? Check. Stuff that makes our creatures into Llanowar Elves? Check. Convoke spells? Check. After the first few turns, we have to assume Emmara won't be able to attack anymore, so we'll need some ways to tap her. We've also got an Umbral Mantle, just in case we feel like getting frisky and making an extra guy or two. Parallel Lives, Anointed Procession, and Primal Vigor double up on our tokens. Run Doubling Season if you must, but I refuse because that's a terrible card and anyone who plays it is up to no good. Divine Visitation seems like a good fit here, too, because at some point 4/4 Angels will seem better than 1/1 Soldiers, even if the ground-pounders have Lifelink. Oh, and Throne of the God-Pharaoh. With an active Quest for Renewal and a way to tap our dudes for mana (or a big enough Convoke spell), we can tap all our guys and throw around a fair bit of damage.

We are missing one way to tap our dudes, though. Because that's going to be our optionboard.

We can honestly pull whatever we want for these ten cards (except for lands. Seriously, I heard you think that!). Slide them in and suddenly Emmara, yanked from her peaceful glen in the verdant Selesnya part of town, has found her wild side. She's put on her leathers and traded her fancy tiara for a racing helmet. That's right: she's going to Crew vehicles.

And, of course, when she does, she'll make more dudes to Crew more vehicles. I selected the ones I'd run, but really, run what you want here. Got some terrible Crew 6 draft chaff? Try it! It'll be hilarious, and no one will see it coming. Some of these cards are pretty great, but honestly my favorite is Renegade Freighter, aka Trample Train. Who doesn't want to attack with a train in a fantasy game?

We're going to be a bit less strategic with this build, too. We want to Crew and attack, probably, and let the consequences happen as they will. Cause a little havoc. Raise a little heck. Generally get up in your opponents' metaphorical faces, and keep the pressure on. Make them think you're building to some grand conclusion. Keep everyone on their back foot. It's more about panache than anything else. In other words, find your wild side. Let winning be a problem for other people. You're just here to go fast and have fun.

If one wanted to tune this up a bit more (I wouldn't, but hey, it's your deck) I'd probably start with some enchantment tutors so you can go get your Beastmaster Ascensions and Cathars' Crusades. After that, Craterhoof is probably wanted, and (blech) Doubling Season, which can also be searched for. Catapult Master would be a fun way to use all the Soldiers. There's probably a way to go infinite with Emmara, and building that in as a pocket combo is probably fair, though I really wouldn't make it searchable. Don't try to tune the cars version. It's not worth it and there are way better Vehicle builds out there. This Optionboard is so you can take a fun, fair deck, and make it reckless and silly.

What's your favorite deck to use to do something other than win? I'd love to hear about them. Alternate goals are one of the things that keep this format so interesting, and a great way to make sure more people than just the winner have a great time. Please let us all know in the comments!

Now get out there and tap some guys to make some other guys.

Thanks for reading.

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